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Insomnia

CATEGORY: Sleep

Insomnia or sleeplessness is a condition that often causes annoyance, and by depriving the person of his natural rest, results in interference with his activity during the day.  When it becomes a habit, it may pose a serious menace to health.

Causes and Symptoms: Insomnia may be due to a variety of causes that keep the person awake altogether, or result in disturbing dreams and unrefreshing slumber.  There are many people with a nervous temperament whose sleep is much more liable to be interrupted by trivial causes than that of their easy-going neighbours.  In temporary cases of sleeplessness or dreaming in which the affected person suffers from disturbed nights now and then, the cause is usually to be sought in some external source of irritation.  A slight degree of pain; uncomfortable surroundings, such as insufficient covering in winter or a hot and humid night without a fan; an overfill] stomach causing discomfort; or a nagging worry may prevent the brain from attaining the degree of relaxation which is a prerequisite of sleep.  Other factors such as extreme worry overwork, voluntary limitation of the hours of sleep, and grief may lead to, a habitual lack of sleep.  Poisonous substances circulating in the blood, as in the case of a fever or an infection, neurasthenia, or nervous weakness may also cause loss of sleep.

Medicines & Prescriptions: The treatment of insomnia lies in removing the cause.  After the somatic reasons such as dyspepsia, pain, and uncomfortable surroundings have all been removed and sleep still refuses to oblige, the physician must then look for psychological reasons which deny the patient a restful sleep.  The vitiation of the three doshas, taken together or individually, may be the cause of the disorder. Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) and Vacha (Acorus calamus), and, of course, Amalaki are the drugs of choice for insomnia.  Powders of these drugs, individually or in combination, in doses of one teaspoonful, are given thrice a day with water or milk.  Til (sesame) oil should be boiled with these powders and used for massaging the head and body before a bath.  An alternative remedy is poppy seed oil.

Another remedy which can be administered by a practitioner is dhara.  Two litres of buffalo milk is boiled with two ounces of Mustak (Cyperus rotundus) powder and then converted into curd.  The curd is then churned and the butter removed. the buttermilk left, mixed with an equal quantity of decoction of amalaki, is dropped, one drop at a time, between the eyebrows of the patient when he lies flat on his back.  The dripping is continued for fifteen to twenty minutes in the morning.  This is followed by a bath.  Any of the following standard medicines may also be tried:  

1.   Vatakulantaka.   120 mg to be administered twice daily with honey.
2.   Nidrodaya Rasa.   120 mg to be taken with honey 
3.  Ashwagandha Churna.   1 gm to be taken with sugar and ghee.  
4.  Pipplimula Churna; Swarnamakshika.   1.5   gm to he taken in a single dose at bedtime. 1 gm to be taken with gur.  

In addition, Chameli Taila should be used for messaging the head to induce sleep.

Home Remedies: A common home remedy for insomnia is the banana.  A teaspoonful of fried powder of cumin seeds should be mixed with the pulp of a ripe banana and taken last thing at night. Cow's ghee should be used for massaging the soles of the feet at night.

Diet and Other Regimen: The patient should have a filling diet depending on his capacity to digest it.  Buffalo milk and its buttermilk are particularly helpful.

Massage of the body, followed by a cold or hot bath, depending on the season, are recommended.  The patient must take exercise so that he is tired before he lies down in bed.  Predisposing causes like worry and mental strain must be removed before one can expect any success in the treatment of insomnia.